Apostasy in Islam
Apostasy in Islam (Arabic: ردة, riddah or ارتداد, irtidād) is commonly defined as the conscious abandonment of Islam by a Muslim in word or through deed. It includes the act of converting to another religion or non-acceptance of faith to be irreligious, by a person who was born in a Muslim family or who had previously accepted Islam. While classical Islamic law has traditionally called for execution for those who refuse to repent of apostasy from Islam, the definition of this act and whether and how it should be punished, are matters of controversy and opinions of Islamic scholars differ on these questions.According to the classical legal doctrine, apostasy in Islam includes not only an explicit renunciation of the Islamic faith (whether for another religion or irreligiosity), but also any deed or utterance implying unbelief, such as one denying a "fundamental tenet or creed" of Islam. Those who were originally forced to embrace Islam, or who acted as apostates out of fear, or who repented of their apostasy, should not be subject to execution.Until the late 19th century, the vast majority of Sunni and Shia jurists held that for adult men, apostasy from Islam was a crime as well as a sin, an act of treason punishable with the death penalty, typically after a waiting period to allow the apostate time to repent and to return to Islam. The kind of apostasy which the jurists generally deemed punishable was of the political kind, although there were considerable legal differences of opinion on this matter. Wael Hallaq states that "[in] a culture whose lynchpin is religion, religious principles and religious morality, apostasy is in some way equivalent to high treason in the modern nation-state". Early Islamic jurists developed legal institutions to circumvent this harsh punishment and the standard for apostasy from Islam was set so high that practically no apostasy verdict could be passed before the 11th century. However, later jurists lowered the bar for applying the death penalty, allowing judges to interpret the apostasy law in different ways, which they did sometimes leniently and sometimes strictly. In the late 19th century, the use of criminal penalties for apostasy fell into disuse, although civil penalties were still applied.In modern times the majority of modern Islamic jurists continue to regard apostasy not only as a sin but as a crime deserving the death penalty (according to Abdul Rashied Omar),
argue its punishment should not be death, or should just be left to God,
punishment being inconsistent with Quranic injunctions against compulsion in belief. and should be enforced only if apostasy becomes a mechanism of public disobedience and disorder (fitna). Critics argue that the death penalty or other punishment for apostasy in Islam is a violation of universal human rights and an issue of freedom of faith and conscience.As of 2019, there are 12 Muslim-majority countries that have the death sentence for apostasy, whereas in 13 other countries apostasy is illegal and the government prescribes some form of punishment for apostasy including: torture, imprisonment, annulment of marriage, loss of inheritance rights or custody rights, amongst others. From 1985 to 2006, three governments executed four individuals for apostasy from Islam: "one in Sudan in 1985; two in Iran, in 1989 and 1998; and one in Saudi Arabia in 1992." The Tunisian Constitution of 2014 stipulates protection from attacks based on accusations of apostasy. In a Pew Research Center poll, public support for capital punishment for apostasy among Muslims ranged from 78% in Afghanistan to less than 1% in Kazakhstan.